Coach “Dusted” Steroids on Olympic Gold Medalist’s Food

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Belarusian shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk received a one-year suspension from competition after her current coach claimed to be the source of the anabolic steroids found in her urine sample. A steroid positive typically results in a two-year ban unless there are extenuating circumstances that explain the presence of a prohibited substance. The admission by Ostapchuk’s coach apparently satisfied anti-doping authorities; it left many others skeptical.

Ostapchuk won the gold medal in the women’s shot put at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Unfortunately, she tested positive for the anabolic steroid commonly known as Primobolan. Ostapchuk became the only Olympic medalist in London to test positive for steroids. She was stripped of the gold medal. Valerie Adams of New Zealand will consequently be awarded the shot put gold medal next week.

Ostapchuk originally blamed a former, disgruntled coach of sabotaging her sample. Anatoly Baduyev, the former deputy chairman of the Belarusian Athletics Federation, was implicated by law enforcement authorities in a variety of blackmail schemes involving athletes.

The  Belarusian National Anti-Doping Agency (BNADA) conducted an investigation into the Ostapchuk steroid case under the supervision of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). BNADA was unable to provide evidence that Baduyev was responsible for introducing steroids into her system or her sample. However, Alexander Yefimov, the shotput coach for Ostapchuk, stepped forward to claim responsibility for “dusting” her food with the methenolone powder in a last-ditch effort to improve her Olympic performance.

“Yefimov confessed he had put the banned drug metenolone into Ostapchuk’s food without her knowledge because he was worried by her performances in the lead-up to the London Games,” said BNADA head Alexander Vankhadlo.

While BNADA was satisfied with the explanation, supporters of Valerie Adams were skeptical.

Nick Cowan, the manager for Adams, did understand why Ostapchuk’s coach would introduce steroids only in the last week before the Olympics; Ostapchuk had been performing at career-best levels for several months leading up to the Olympic. So, there was no reason to add steroids to the mix in the last week.

“It just doesn’t add up to me. On paper, she was in the best form of her career going into the Olympics, so why the coach would be worried about her results, so much so that he’d spike her food just days out from the competition, it just doesn’t add up,” said Cowan.

Graeme Steel, the chief executive officer for Drug Free Sport NZ, believes that Yefimov “fell on the sword” to protect his athlete. Additionally, Olympic coaches should know how to use steroids in a manner that avoids testing positive according to Steel.

“It’s just an extraordinary thing to have us believe that a coach of a potential gold medal athlete would do that,” said Steel. “Any coach must know that anything you do has got to stay under the radar, so if you’re going to dope you do it in a very controlled and specific way.”

Photo credit: Erik van Leeuwen, attribution: Erik van Leeuwen (bron: Wikipedia).


Kirk, S. & Cooke, M. (September 12, 2012). Scepticism of Ostapchuk’s coach’s mea culpa. Retrieved from